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Babe Ruth grounded out in his final at-bat. Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle popped out. Pete Rose struck out.
But Teddy Ballgame's crowning glory was a farewell home run—the ultimate walk-off.
On September 28, 1960, as seen in the video footage linked here, Williams belted Oriole pitcher Jack Fisher's 1-1 pitch into the deep-center bullpen at Fenway Park. Then, while the Red Sox faithful roared, the 42-year-old legend ran the bases like a rookie—like he was the Kid again. And he kept on motoring all the way to the dugout...where he famously refused a curtain call.
What did Williams do instead? He sat down on the bench and donned his warm-up jacket—an identical match to that presented here...and quite possibly the very same one. In a 2010 ESPN.com article commemorating the 50th anniversary, our hero is pictured just so on that swan-song afternoon with the caption, "Williams ended his day the way he started it, sitting in the dugout with his jacket on." Meanwhile, a Corbis Images photo dates to the day prior and shows Williams again in his heavy wool warm-up, now signing autographs.
One of just two vintage Williams playing jackets that we've ever seen over the past 35-plus years, this example is superior by far in terms of condition, multiple identifiers and aesthetic beauty. The classic Red Sox garment exhibits distinctive traits of the late 1940s and early 1950s—a time when such team jackets were often reused for many seasons in a row. Thus, in the cooler months of April and September, Williams may have worn this warm-up at any time through the postwar era, including his age-defying .388 campaign in '57 and his capstone clout in '60.
"I thought about tipping my cap, you're damn right I did," Williams later wrote in his autobiography, "and for a moment I was torn, but by the time I got to second base I knew I couldn't do it. Like I said, I was just fed up with that part of the act. You can't imagine though the warm feeling I had, for the very fact that I had done what every ballplayer would want to do in his last time up, having wanted to do it so badly, and knowing how the fans really felt, how happy they were for me. Maybe I should have let them know I knew, but I couldn't. It just wouldn't have been me."
Or, as writer John Updike immortalized the event: "The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters."
We cannot overstate the phenomenal usage and preservation of Williams' size-48 jacket, from the routine mild interior soiling to the exquisite exterior appearance—highlighted by its supple wool, still-soft-to-the-touch chenille "dual Red Sox" logo, and miraculously unfaded colors. Period features include: 1) Interlocking chenille Red Sox logo on the left chest; 2) Nylon/wool stretch-ribbed knit collar cuff and sleeve ends; 3) 7-button-snap front (more indicative of 1950s than 1940s); 4) An inside-collar, oversized "9" stencil identifier that shows consistent fading with the interior lining surface (and that is reminiscent of numerals used on contemporary equipment bags and trunks); 5) Outstanding inner-right pocket identifier with "Williams" in red chenille calligraphy script, straight stitch affixed (matching exemplars from mid-to-late 1940s to early 1950s); 6) Intact, original Tim McCauliffe label. LOA from Legendary Auctions.